Council chiefs have blamed Waterways Ireland for not answering phones on Saturday night, leaving them to find a digger to prise open canal locks and ease flooding in Limerick city.
The local authority said it was disappointed with the agency’s response to the crisis which left 14 homes flooded and girls’ secondary school Ard Scoil Mhuire closed in the Corbally area.
Locals have demanded answers as to why the canal was not drained fast enough.
Waterways Ireland defended its management of the lock system and claimed Limerick City and County Council had been tasked to monitor water levels over the weekend and release water “as appropriate”.
Limerick City and County Council hit back, insisting there is only one agency solely responsible for the Park Canal.
Its staff had to deploy an excavator to force open the lock on Saturday night after keys left with council staff failed to budge the huge gates because of a build up of silt and debris combined with the weight of water.
“The council responded to reports on Saturday evening that the canal was full and over-topping,” a spokesman said.
“Attempts were made by the council engineer on site to open the gates with the keys that were left with the authority. The gates failed to respond and contact was immediately made with Waterways Ireland.
“As Waterways Ireland were not immediately available attempts were made by council engineers and the fire service to open the canal gates. The council deployed an excavator to prise the canal gates open, an action that subsequently resulted in a lowering of water levels and the gradual alleviation of flooding in the area.”
An hour and half passed from when Waterways Ireland was first contacted until a digger was used to release the pressure on the system.
Meetings are taking place today between the two bodies to avoid a repeat of the situation.
Limerick City and County Council said they will ask Waterways Ireland to immediately review the management and operation of the Park Canal and also publicly outline its plans, to reassure affected residents and businesses.